Genie Santiago
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Genie Santiago

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo R&B Hip Hop





Spooky season is over, but the vibes live on for a full-time witch like Genie Santiago. Genie Santiago is a Boston-based musician, arts organizer, and collaborative artist whose music unites the spiritual and sexual realms. Her 2018 EP Know Your Worth featured five sultry tracks including one duet with Boston MC Red Shaydez, and her most recent release, “Spirit Party”, is an ode to self-love (in more ways than one). Santiago is also the organizer of the Sunflowers music series, an intimate gathering where performers are encouraged to share their music and the stories and emotions behind the songs.

In advance of the upcoming Sunflowers event on November 7th — an all-star lineup consisting of Brandie Blaze, Anaís Azul, Ava Sophia and Santiago herself — Hassle writer Hassan Ghanny sat down with Santiago to talk about her artistry, her heritage, and her witchy womanhood.

Boston Hassle: Your artistic presence fuses the creative process with the spiritual realm. What does it mean to bring the spiritual world into the things you put out there as a recording artist?

Genie: I was taken away at 10 months from my mom [with] my siblings. We got put into foster care; I was in foster care until I was 6. So I didn’t really have that sense of, like, home, or community. Bad things happened, switching around from home to home. A lot of abuse, a lot of trauma. I felt like I had this affinity with other things – with art, with spirituality. I would see things that other people didn’t see, I would feel things and know someone wasn’t a kind person. [After] the trauma, I developed this sixth sense with people. But I was always really interested in the magical world. I was like, ‘Something is gonna happen for me. Something magical, something bigger than the projects. Something bigger than being hungry.’

I was trying to figure out ways to cope with that anger. And that’s when I started with meditation, and then reading about Buddhism, and thinking that that was the way to the spiritual world. And then with that stuff, I started exploring my roots. And what it meant to be a taína. And then I started finding things out about my family, that my grandmother was a bruja but akin to a medicine woman — and my grandfather and father had these [same] affinities for spirits. But it was more of how to get in tune with myself. And being more in touch with who I was as a spirit. And my anger slipped away, and I wasn’t carrying my acceptance of the abuse and the trauma anymore. And I wanted to give that to other people, especially people of color.

This is our ancestors, this is who we are. Even if you’re not raised there, it’s still in you. The trauma from [our] ancestors is within us too, in addition to our own trauma. So how do we let that go?

Boston Hassle: Do you consider yourself an artist who aims to heal, or a healer who makes art?

Genie: Wooo! That’s tricky! (laughs) I would say an artist who aims to heal, because I was an artist first. That’s the only reason why — because I was sure of that first. I healed myself first through art. And through that journey, I realized that I wanna be here. So how can I do that?

Music saved me. My art saved me. I definitely was like, ‘I have this mic — what am I gonna do with it?’ Am I just gonna put on a show and be pretty? Do I just do this [choreography] and sing these songs? Or can I get people to listen? And when I first started doing music, I had no idea what I was doing. People were telling me what to do, producers were telling me what to do, and I was never happy. I was always so stressed in the studio, [thinking] like… this is not how this is supposed to feel. And it wasn’t until I did “2:22am” that I [felt] like I had more creative control of what I wanted to do. And then I did “Spirit Party”, and I was like, This is what I wanna do. This is the kind of music I want to make that’s, like, hip-hop and R&B and sensual and spiritual all at the same time.
Boston Hassle: What can we expect from the upcoming Sunflowers live show on November 7th?

Genie:As artists, we’re always talking about having that [proverbial] mic, and having that power of talking to that mass of people, having [their] attention… so what are we gonna do? I was doing these shows, and I was feeling like… You get this limited amount of time to talk, and show who you are. You have to put on a show — this promoter brought you to this one spot, they expect you to sell tickets and put on a show. A lot of times I feel bored when I’m watching artists, because, like… I don’t know who this person is. I don’t feel any connection [to them]. Art does different things for people — for me, I wanna feel something.

So for a long time I tried to figure out, ‘How can I be entertaining and also moving?’ So I created Sunflowers. It’s a way for artists to unplug and just show people who they are a little bit. Tell me your story! Where did you come from, why did you write that song? And the people that are buying those tickets come for that reason. They’re not coming there [just] to be entertained, they’re coming there to feel something. And to connect with artists in their city. So I feel like, you know, I wanted to do shows like that, so I created it myself. (laughs)

I have this mic, and I’m gonna sing, but I’m also gonna make you think, and maybe cry a little bit. But I’m gonna leave somebody with something.

Boston Hassle: You speak a lot to your experience as a Latina in your music. At Sunflowers, the bill is all women and non-cis male identified performers, so you are also creating opportunities for marginalized music artists. How does your womanhood and your intentions to uplift women inform your artistry?

Genie: I think there’s a couple things going on there. Cause, like, I am a Latina — I identify as that. But I have to understand that — as anyone from the Caribbean understands — you’re kind of this mutated race. You’re this created race of European, indigenous, and africano. I understand that when people look at me, they’re not really sure what I am, who I am – they don’t see me as queer, they don’t see me as Latina, they might [even] see me as a straight white woman. And also — I grew up poor, I grew up in the projects, I was sexually abused, and I have taken back my sexuality — and I love being sexual and I’m healthy about it. They wanna put us in these boxes, like, if you’re spiritual you can’t be sexual. “Spirit Party” was that — that our sexuality is our spirituality.

I try to be sensitive to everyone’s experience because my experience as a Latina is very different than [that of] an Afro-Latina. My experience as a queer woman is very different from that of a straight woman. My experience as a sexual abuse survivor is very different from someone who hasn’t experienced that. So if we could just find a way for us to stop putting ourselves in these boxes, and just be sensitive and tolerant to each other… then everything would just be a lot better. I just think that when people listen to my music, and watch my art, that they feel connected to something inside of them. And I think their spirit and their sexuality is where my strong suits are.

It’s coming to peace with who you are inside, and not what box you fit in. It’s just how you feel inside. You might not fit in my box.

Genie:You have to learn your ancestral ways from people who have not hurt your ancestors. You know what I mean? When you go to Salem and you go to these witch stores, it’s definitely aimed at the white witch, the Gaelic magic. Which is a beautiful thing, like — I have Irish ancestors — but there’s not a lot for African magic, or Caribbean magic, Santería. You have to go to a botánica [herbalism shop]. And you can’t just like, ‘Hey Google, where is my local botánica?” You just gotta know where it is. So you have to be very careful of the people who are exploiting ancestral magic as their own, and getting money from it.

And I was really nervous about [“Spirit Party”] because it is a very spiritual, sexy, powerful song. And so, working with [my producer] Mertz — he’s not very spiritual or powerful or sexy. (laughs) But I was nervous about going there. First of all, I’m alone with a guy in a studio. And he was just like, so sweet, and made it so comfortable for me. And acknowledged that this is a safe space, and said, ‘Anything that I can do to make this space safe for you, you let me know.’ I said, ‘Listen. I’m a sexual abuse survivor. I need this to be a safe space. I don’t want strangers coming in of the room — this is my session. I don’t want anybody in here that I don’t know, that I didn’t invite into myspace.’ And he was very very, like — “I get it.” He made sure that the energy was cleared out, he let me burn palo santo and candles. And I was nervous to go in there and be like, ‘Here’s the song, you ready?’ — Off of his instrumental, this is what I created off of your art. And so I sang — “Masturbate, meditate, manifest, repeat.” — and he was like, ‘Yoooo, this is the greatest shit ever!’ And I was like “…really?” So that got me excited, that this straight white male could get excited about something that was obviously very sexual and spiritual.

I want Sunflowers to feel like how you should feel when you come out of, like, a yoga [session] or anything that feels like church. Music has this power, this psychological power to move you, and move the masses. So I wanna feel like that. And I want to be inclusive to all women when I create a healing space. But you need to know, honey, when you come in here, that it’s first-come-first-serve for my people. - Boston Hassle

"Genie Santiago exhibits a depth of reach in an intimate setting"

Live Review: The Boston singer-songwriter brought her riveting 'Sunflowers & LavaLamps' performance to Medford on Saturday

The smooth sensuality that singer/songwriter Genie Santiago possesses is equally intoxicating as it is empowering.

Her June EP Know Your Worth highlights the struggle a young woman experiences at the crux of a life-changing transformation. Santiago’s lyricism is poignant and heart-wrenching; through cautionary storytelling she ruefully illustrates that the journey to self-love typically tends to be a painstaking one. From the title track to “2:22am” to “Herstory,” Know Your Worth is ripe with lessons on love, life and rumination. It’s a must listen for anyone fighting to find themselves.

Santiago’s “Sunflowers & LavaLamps” performance this past Saturday (December 2) at Medford’s Hustle Killer was a playful manifestation of her messages of empathy and tenderness. In front of an audience of just 20 people, Santiago’s musical stylings proved satiating and inspirational. Opener Sway Casey brought his spoken word musings to life through lucid recitations, call and response, and an elusive cover of “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman.

When Santiago took the mic, onlookers were eager to absorb her energy. She opened her set with a breathtaking cover of her own, Jhene Aiko’s “The Worst.” Santiago glided through the song effortlessly with her voice being her most perplexing and powerful asset. Her stage presence is also astounding; she is magnetic and soothing and honest and vulnerable.

Santiago used moments between songs to explain why the making of Know Your Worth was necessary for her to complete her own path to self-discovery, the value in being untamable, and how healthy relationships with other people start from within ourselves. She held nothing back and capitalized on her authenticity.

“Sunflowers & LavaLamps” was everything Santiago promised and more; it was intimate and full of insightful gems. The biggest take away was slightly cliché but nonetheless rang true: Accepting who you are is pivotal in living your purpose. It’s refreshing to see Santiago relishing in hers. - Vanyaland

"Rising Boston singers Bust Out"

Bust Out Boston plans to tell more than a dozen of those stories. The festival celebrating woman in music began as a series of shows at the Burren last year; this September it returns with a packed day at Brighton featuring upcoming acts including Genie Santiago, Brandie Blaze and the Downhauls and city champs such Billy Dean Thomas and Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys. Fittingly, indie rock/pop/dance/roots/what-else-you-got star Caroline Rose shares headlining duties with Dutch.

Hopefully Brandie Blaze or Genie Santiago or anyone else on the 14-act bill will go global in 2020. - Boston Herald


Spirit Party 

Single Released 2019

Know Your Worth (Debut EP)

Debut EP Released 2018



Described as spiritual and sensual, Genie Santiago is a singer, poet, and visual artist based out of Boston. Emerging from rough beginnings, her art draws from her experience growing up as a poor, Queer Latina and a survivor of sexual abuse. Her life and identity have inspired her mission to use her art to empower others to overcome trauma, decolonize the mind, promote sexual freedom, and stray from the ideals of self-hatred that society places upon us.


With humble beginnings in school performances and open mics, Genie finally gained the stability and means to develop her brand and music in 2017. Notable events she has performed at since then include the Evolution Of Hip Hop Festival, Queer Qarnival, Bust Out Boston, and Boston Cannabis Week. She has opened for acts Lupe Fiasco, BIA, and sang alongside Son Little. Genie also created the "Sunflowers" Concert Series in 2018 to showcase the work of Boston based performers and help create intimate bonds between audience and performer. "We are more than performers. We are artists. We are fragile beings with a story to share."

In 2018, Genie released her debut EP "Know Your Worth" along with a music video for her hit single "2:22am" featuring Red Shaydez.  As quoted in Vanyaland, "Santiago’s lyricism [in "Know Your Worth"] is poignant and heart-wrenching; through cautionary storytelling she ruefully illustrates that the journey to self-love typically tends to be a painstaking one." Summer 2019 came with the release of the single "Spirit Party" accompanied by a music video portraying a day in the life of Genie. The song is meant to raise consciousness towards the importance of yoni health, womb healing, Kundalini energy, meditation, and sexual freedom in women. Sounds of R&B, Hip-Hop, Singing Bowls, and even "Om" chanting can all be found in this piece of art.

Genie Santiago is currently working closely with producer/engineer Mertz on her new album for 2020 which will feature many of her favorite local artists. Stay tuned for more magic! 

Band Members